“Anyone can do the little job of directing operations in war.”

“I am the greatest warlord of all time.” – Adolf Hitler

NOT EXACTLY:

“German men and women! The High Command of the armed forces has today… declared the unconditional surrender of all German fighting troops.”

Foreign Minister of the Dönitz government, Schwerin von Krosigk, In a broadcast to the German people on German national radio on the afternoon of 7 may 1945.

as quoted by the New York Times

 

Hitler [above far right] attained the rank of gefreiter in the First World War (1914-1918). This is equivalent to the rank of private first class in the US Army or lance corporal in the US Marines or British Army. 

(He grew up in Linz in what had been the Bohemian area of the Austrian Empire. This led Herr General Fieldmarshal von Rundstedt to refer to him as that “Bohemian corporal.”)

“Anyone can do the little job of directing operations in war.” Hitler to Colonel-General Halder, Chief of the German General Staff in December 1941 after the resignation of Field Marshal Walter von Brauchitsch (1881-1948) as Commander-in-Chief of the German Army (1938-1941).

Instead of appointing a professional soldier, Hitler appointed himself, thus assuming operational command of the German Army. Given that he was already Head of the Nazi Party, Chief of State, Minister of Defense, and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, this new responsibility put him in the position of giving orders to himself.

This would be as if President Franklin Roosevelt, who held the office of President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces, had also assumed the roles of Secretary of War and Secretary of the Navy, Chief of Staff of the US Army and Airforce and Chief of Naval Operations, Commander in Chief of Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, and Commander in Chief of the Southwest Pacific Theater.

Herr Colonel-General Halder, only man to hold Nazi Germany’s Knights Cross & the US Meritorious Civilian Service Award

“Incredible as it may sound, Hitler did not even have a general plan for the war.” – Colonel General Franz Halder, Chief of the German Army General Staff until dismissed by Hitler in September of 1942.

After the war, Halder worked for the US Army Historical Branch for 15 years and in 1961 received the US Meritorious Civilian Service Award from President Kennedy, thus becoming the only man in history to hold this award and the Knights Cross.

Nazi Saboteurs Landed In America by German U-boats

German uboats touched american soil three times during world war two

nytsaboteurs

In reality, the leader of the group, George Dasch, turned all of them into the FBI. laimed all the credit but only when Dasch called the FBI did they have any idea German saboteurs were in the country.

In spite of many tall tales, German U-boats only touched American soil three times and they didn’t stay very long. Approaching an enemy coast to land agents was extremely dangerous since the boat had to go into shallow water and close an enemy coast with no intelligence.

Since the only real protection a U-Boat had was going deep underwater, being in shallow water made this impossible. Officers and crewmen intensely disliked missions such as this because it put them in such danger.

Over the years, dozens of people have told me how they had heard about German U-Boat coming ashore in the US to shop, go to the movies, have a beer, you name it. Absolutely none of these stories are true. A work colleague many years ago told me UBoat men used to come ashore for an evening of dinner, drinks, and dancing in Palm Beach. His grandfather met many of them. This is impossible but stories like this abound.

I have asked the two top U-Boat historians in the world Jak P Mallman-Showell and Dr. Timothy Mulligan if any of these stories are true and they both said, “no.” And gave me permission to quote them.

 

NEW YORK TIMES 10 December 1945

Aircraft and many other key armaments, relied on aluminum. As rugged as they seem, you could punch a sharpened pencil through the side of a B-17. Aluminum production in the US skyrocketed during the war.  Because it is difficult to make and requires huge amounts of electricity, there are many points in the production cycle which a saboteur could disrupt.

Nazi Germany Unleashes Bombers on London

Germans Bomb London

Bomb damage to HMV (His Master’s Voice) gramophone shop, Oxford Street, London, 1940. The shop had been opened by Sir Edward Elgar in 1921Photograph: Cecil Beaton/Imperial War Museum

 

The Blitz, London, 1942. A workman with a wheelbarrow clears up fallen debris from the roof of St Mary-le-Bow after its first bombing. Subsequently the church was completely destroyed. The church was rebuilt after the war. It was said that a genuine Cockney was a person born within the sounds of the bells of St. Mary-le-Bow.  Photograph: Cecil Beaton/Imperial War Museum

 

Bomb damage to the church of St Lawrence Jewry, Guildhall, London, 1940. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, the church suffered major damage during the Blitz and was rebuilt to Wren’s original design in 1957.  Photograph: Cecil Beaton/Imperial War Museum

 

London Blitz:  Young woman pulled alive from rubble of bombed building by London Air Raid Precaution emergency workers

Payback is a Bitch
Stuttgart after a visit from RAF Bomber Command in 1943

ROYAL AIR FORCE BOMBER COMMAND, 1942-1945. (CL 3437) Low-level aerial photograph of the devastated city centre of Stuttgart from the south-west, after 53 major raids, most of them by Bomber Command, destroyed nearly 68 percent of its built-up area and killed 4,562 people. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205022152

 

 

Massive 16 inch guns of battleship HMS Rodney

HMS Nelson and HMS Rodney were the only two battleships in the British Royal Navy with 16 inch guns.

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 2127) View looking forward from the bridge of HMS RODNEY in rough seas, showing two of the three 16 inch turrets trained on either beam, the barrels of the third turret can be seen in the foreground. Water can be seen coming up over the bow. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185179

All three main batteries were in the forefront of the ship before the bridge giving them an unusual appearance and the only battleships designed this was. During testing the Royal Navy discovered that if the turret closest to the bridge was traversed abeam to the maximum extent, then firing it broke all the windows on the bridge.

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 2115) After spending the night in the gun turrets and engine rooms of the battleship HMS RODNEY, crewmen (sailors and marines) take some fresh air on the starboard deck. Two of the triple 16 inch gun turrets can be seen in the background. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185174

Built to the limitations of the Washington Naval Treaty, the ships had heavy guns and heavy armour but had to reduce engine capacity to stay within the treaty limits. Unfortunately, their maximum speed was only 23 knots and that was on commissioning in the 1920s. They had a difficult time making that speed in World War Two although on occasion they made that speed and even higher such as when Rodney was trying to close with the Bismarck.

HMS Rodney had severe problems with water leaking into the ship due to defective riveting. In spite of extensive repairs made in the US Navy shipyard in Philadelphia the ship continued to have significant problems with water leaks–not a problem one wants in a man o’ war.

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 2147) A very clear shot of B turret on board HMS RODNEY taken from the bridge as the ship prepares to enter harbour. Beyond, on the focsle, some of the men are preparing to haul in the paravanes and get the cable cleared for anchoring. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185184

 

In her clash with the Bisarck, HMS Rodney fired 340 16-inch shell. While most firing was done in salvos, that is one barrel per turret would fire, the Rodney did fire a few broadsides. This meant all nine 16 inch guns fired at the same time. While designed for this, a full broadside was tough on the ship.

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 15453) Inside the gunhouse of one of the three 16 inch triple Mark I mounting, housing three 16-inch Mark I guns on board HMS RODNEY. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205186345
THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 1135) On board HMS RODNEY a group of officers and men standing on a 16 inch turret watching a ‘Fashion Parade’. Aircraft of all types (not in the picture) fly past at a considerable height to give the Navy practice in identifying the machines. Note the 16 inch guns are at maximum elevation. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185088
THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 2123) Inside the gunhouse of one of the three Mark I triple mountings of HMS RODNEY showing the three 16 inch Mark I guns. In the foreground the gun lock is being shifted. In the centre the gun is being loaded and the gun on the left is ready to fire. Three members of crew can be seen. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185176
THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 1417) Royal Marines remove old paint from the X gun turret on board HMS RODNEY before repainting. Another of the triple 16 inch gun turrets can be seen beyond the men. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185114

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 4608) Members of the South African Division of the Royal Naval Volunteers Reserve on board HMS NELSON posing for the camera between two of the enormous 16 inch guns of A turret. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205119388

While the photo above is of HMS Rodney’s sister ship, HMS Nelson, you can see just how big were these 16 inch guns. HMS Nelson was the first of the ships constructed so they were known as “Nelson class” battleships. These were the only two battleships which carried main battery guns actually larger than than the Bismarck’s 15 inch guns.

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 2113) A memorial service for the Armed Merchant Cruiser JERVIS BAY, being held on the upper deck of HMS RODNEY whilst she is at sea. Comparatively few were able to attend the service, the rest being at their action stations, some being in the turrets of the 16 inch guns seen in the picture. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185173

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 200) Some of the barrels of goods passing under a 16 inch gun of HMS RODNEY as they are being rolled to the store rooms. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185017

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 7694) Changing the 16 inch guns on HMS RODNEY at Cammel Laird shipyard, Birkenhead. Lowering a gun into position in A turret. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185604

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 16216) The battleship HMS RODNEY underway in the Mediterranean (photographed from the aircraft carrier HMS FORMIDABLE). Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205119664

English Nursing Sisters Critical to Victory in World War Two

 Establishing a field hospital in normandy days after Dday
THE BRITISH ARMY IN NORMANDY, JUNE 1944 (B 5859) A cheery party of Sisters of Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service with their baggage at No 88 General Hospital at La Delivrande, Normandy. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205129366
THE BRITISH ARMY IN THE NORMANDY CAMPAIGN 1944 (B 9222) A nurse attends to wounded soldiers in a field hospital, 15 August 1944. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205202480

 

ROYAL AIR FORCE: 2ND TACTICAL AIR FORCE, 1943-1945. (CL 310) The interior of one of the tented wards at No. 50 Mobile Field Hospital in Normandy. Sister M Griffiths helps one of the patients into his dressing-gown (right). Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205211654
THE BRITISH ARMY IN THE NORMANDY CAMPAIGN 1944 (B 5803) Royal Army Medical Corps nurses and women of the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS) carry a wounded soldier out of the operating tent at the 79th General Hospital at Bayeux, 20 June 1944. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205202025

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN NORMANDY 1944 (B 5847) Women of Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMS) queue for their lunch at No 88 General Hospital at Douvres-la-Delivrande, 22 June 1944. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205924

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN NORMANDY 1944 (B 5841) Women of Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMS) pose for a group photograph at No 88 General Hospital at Douvres-la-Delivrande, 22 June 1944. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205923

 

nursing british wounded in france during german invasion of june 1940 before dunkirk

 

WOMEN AT WAR 1939 – 1945 (TR 2163) Nursing: Half length portrait of a nursing sister of Queen Alexandra?s Imperial Military Nursing Service outside a field hospital in France. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205125325
nursing british and commonwealth troops in egypt
ROYAL AIR FORCE IN THE MIDDLE EAST, 1944-1945. (CM 6260) Airmen and n.c.o. patients resting on the balcony at No. 5 RAF General Hospital, Abassia, Egypt, attended by PMRAFNS Sisters Lindsay of Montrose (left), and D’Hondt of Hindhead, Surrey (right). Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205209137
ROYAL AIR FORCE MEDICAL SERVICES, 1939-1945. (CM 2410) Recently-arrived nursing sisters of the Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service gathered on the balcony of No. 5 RAF General Hospital, newly established at Abassia, Egypt. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205126790
Reykjavik Wasn’t the warmest POSting
PRINCESS MARY’S ROYAL AIR FORCE NURSING SERVICE, 1939-1945. (CS 330) Nurses relaxing in the Sister’s Mess of the RAF Hospital at Reykjavik, Iceland. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205207860
lots of snow in Reykjavik
ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945. (CS 354) Snowed-up technical huts and airfield at Reykjavik, Iceland, during a lull in the blizzard which hit the island between 21 and 27 February 1945. Consolidated Liberator GR Mark VIs of No.53 Squadron RAF are parked on the airfield. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205207862

Mississippi Given to Greeks Bombed by Germans

The USS Mississippi was the first battleship of her class and was commissioned for the US Navy in 1908. She was subsequently sold to Greece in 1914 and was then renamed Kilkis. Kilkis saw minimal action during WW 1, assisted the White Russian Forces in the 1919 Allied Crimean expedition, and became a naval artillery training ship in 1935. She was sunk by German Bombers in April 1941 while docked at Salamis Naval Base.

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Dressed with flags, off Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during Founders’ Week, 1908. Note motor launch off the starboard quarter, with Mississippi’s name painted on its stern, and the ship’s name in large letters atop the after superstructure.

 

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View on the foredeck, looking aft, with the forward 12″/45 gun turret trained to starboard, 1908. Note: anchor chain and capstans; hatches; bridge structure with ship’s bell attached below its forward end. Photographed by Enrique Muller.

 

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View looking forward from the ship’s port bridge wing, 1908. Note the 12″/45 gun turret with grating hatches open; also winch and capstans, with decorated tops on the latter. An old fortification is in the left distance. Photographed by Enrique Muller.

Under attack by German JU 87 dive bombers, at the Greek naval base at Salamis, 23 April 1941. In the lower left, in the floating drydock, is the destroyer Vasilefs Georgios. Kilkis, the former USS Mississippi (Battleship # 23), was sunk in this attack. The floating dock and destroyer were also sunk (reportedly on 20 April ?), but Vasilefs Georgios was subsequently raised and placed in service by the German Navy as Hermes (ZG-3). Photograph and some caption information were provided by Franz Selinger.

 

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Sunk at the Greek naval base at Salamis, after she was hit by German air attacks on 23 April 1941. Photographed from a German Heinkel HE 60 seaplane after the base was occupied by the German Army. Note bomb damage to the nearby pier. Kilkis was the former USS Mississippi (Battleship # 23). Photograph and some caption information were provided by Franz Selinger.
Lots of American naval ships end up in foreign navies.

[Images courtesy of the DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY — NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER.]

BEF in France Prepares to Fight Huns

British Expeditionary Force sent to France beginning of World War Two

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939 (O 3) Men of the 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers disembarking at Cherbourg from the steamer ‘Royal Sovereign’, 16 September 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205204991

Comments Charles McCain:  similar to to the BEF in World War One, the British Army sent to France was poorly equipped for modern warfare. Many reserve units of the Territorials were untrained. The Army had spent little time in combined arms training. It had the makings of a disaster and it was.

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939-40 (O 576) Matilda Mk I tanks of 4th Royal Tank Regiment being transported by train from Cherbourg to Amiens, 28 September 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205033

Comments Charles McCain: built by Vickers Armstrong and armed only with a machine gun, these tanks were designed only to support infantry and could hardly go head to head with an a tank as we think of them. Poorly designed, underpowered, lightly armoured, this was not a tank you wanted to be in. With a gasoline powered engine they easily “brewed up” when hit.

The driver of a Matilda I of 4th Royal Tank Regiment in France during the winter of 1939–40. This shows the cramped driver’s compartment and how the hatch obstructs the gun turret. Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum.

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939 (O 165) Crews of 13/18th Royal Hussars work on their Mk VI light tanks in a farmyard near Arras, October 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205007
THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939 (O 152) Men of 1st Border Regiment man a Bren gun set up in the back of a 15cwt truck at Orchies, 13 October 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205004

 

Morris-Commercial 15cwt truck on a railway flat car at Arras, 3 January 1940 .  when evacuated from Dunkirk British forced to leave thousands of trucks

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939 (O 129) A motorcycle despatch rider delivers a message to the signals office of 1st Border Regiment at Orchies, 13 October 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205002

When the British transported the British Expeditionary Force to France they also transported a massive number of vehicles of every sort from tanks to staff cars to trucks to Bren carriers to motorcycles. The official history states that more than 60,000 vehicles were destroyed in combat or left behind on the beaches. The Germans were especially keen on the Bedford trucks.

*BEF vehicle losses in France 1940 from History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Military Series, The War in France and Flanders 1939-1940.

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939-40 (O 617) A Morris CS9 armoured car of ‘C’ Squadron, 12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales’ Own) receives attention parked in a farmyard at Villiers St Simon, 29 September 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205037

 

Troops of the 1st Royal Berkshire Regiment, 2nd Division, checking the papers of civilians at Becun on the Franco-Belgian border, 10 October 1939. Imperial War Museum.  

Unfortunately, many Belgians were of German ancestry or allegiance. As they went back and forth across the border of Belgium and France they kept a keen watch on the various activities of the British and French armies. Once back home, they blabbed everything to the Germans.

During the retreat of the British Army to Dunkirk, the King of Belgium decided to surrender, which opened a gap in the lines forming the corridor British troops were using to retreat. He didn’t give the British a lot of notice. They felt a great bitterness toward the Belgians.

The late Lord Carrington, who served in the Guards Armoured Brigade in World War Two, said in his memoirs that as they went through Belgium in 1944 it was obvious “the Belgians had eaten their way through World War Two.”

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939-40 (O 2288) The Grenadier Guards building breastworks on flooded ground at Hem, December 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205065

Perhaps not the best use of the most elite regiment in the British Army. Typically this work was done pioneer battalions or Royal Engineers.